Green Fossil Leaves Point to Recent Catastrophe

Spruce tree branch

An ancient forest

The term “fossil” is typically associated with once-living things that have been turned into rock. But wood, leaves, mosses, and insects from an ancient forest in Maine were found preserved without having been mineralized. A recent study delved into the mystery of how these plant and other remains could still be so fresh.

Geologist Woodrow Thompson began investigating the “largest and best preserved accumulation of ancient wood…found in Maine” as part of a geologic mapping survey in 1976. He found pieces of wood buried in an Ice Age clay formation in a gravel pit. Local NBC News affiliate WCSH reported, “The trees encased in clay did not look that old, in fact some of the white spruce limbs still had needles on them that were green.”

Thompson said, “These pieces of wood don’t fit your notion of a fossil….This is very fresh looking wood. It looks as though you could put a match to it and it might still burn.”

At the time, he shelved the mystery in order to continue work on the Maine Geological Survey. But in 2007, hospital construction unearthed more samples from the same area. Thompson and his colleagues published these findings and an explanation for their origin in the journal Quaternary Research. Their article reported a carbon date for the wood of approximately 12,000 years in age.

Unsurprisingly, these numbers generally line up with the evolutionary time scheme for Ice Age deposits, since those are the only numbers accepted by mainstream peer-reviewed journals for remains associated with Ice Age events. Also unsurprisingly, the dates contrasted with other natural clock indicators, including tree ring counts and varve-counting methods that were reviewed in the technical paper.

The study authors settled on an “age” for the preserved wood of about 13,520 years. But the fact that these new dates “correct previously published radiocarbon ages” shows that all the “clocks” employed in the dating process provided different ages. Are any of them reliable? In contrast, according to biblical chronology—a dating method that relies on eyewitness accounts—Ice Age catastrophes like this one in Maine occurred on the order of 4,000 years ago…

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image credit: Lum3n